In computer networking, a hop count is a term that is specifically used to refer to the quantity of “access points” that need to be passed through by certain portion of data. The portion of data traveling through these access points is specifically referred to as a packet.

Any time that data moves from point A to point B, it will have to pass through certain access points in order to reach its destination.

Determining Hops

The way that hops are counted depends on the exact context of just what kinds of hardware within the network are considered significant. In one circumstances, certain access points and repeaters might be counted as hops; in other circumstances, certain access points or repeaters may not be counted the hops is all; it all depends on what the exact specifications of the network administrator are.

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Ultimately, a network administrator will assign different roles and degrees of importance to switches, repeaters, access points, and all the pieces of hardware in a network in order to determine what the final count is.

Though there are many who refer to the this term as “the hop” colloquially, the term “hop” specifically refers to the process of data transmitting from one router to the next. In the most literal sense, a hop count can be referred to as the exact number of times that data must hop from one access point to another in order to complete its full journey to its destination.

The access points that data travels through in order to reach its destination could be referred to as intermediate devices, and these intermediate devices don’t necessarily have to be connected by wires.

Wireless Hopping

Intermediate devices that serve as the axis point of data can be remotely located from one another by a very great distance, and that data can still transport itself through them as if they were all connected by a single wire. There are many different kinds of networks that a count can be calculated for, but each one of them operate under the same fundamental principle of data transmission.

Distance Measurement

In another definition, a the term may be used to refer to the specific number of distance that exists between two hosts in the network. When specifically broken down into this definition of distance, a the count can be defined in terms of a formula through the variable X.

When described as X, the count means that there are X gateways or access points that are standing in the way of the data packet before it can reach its destination and complete its journey.

Significance and Limitations

While knowing the hop count can certainly be very helpful, it is important not to overestimate the importance of the count when it comes to determining the full efficiency of the network itself. While the hop count does determine how many access points exist between point A and point B, it doesn’t account for the exact stability, load-bearing capacity, speed or latency of any of these hops in particular.